Is Facetimey Better?

by Hayley Hoverter | 7/2/15 7:21pm

Being on campus means that for the most part we’ve all heard the phrase “facetimey.” The first time I heard this phrase was on the Dartmouth Outing Club’s First Year Trips during a campus tour when one of my leaders remarked that a student was particularly “facetimey.” I had no idea what this meant, nor did I realize that I’d hear this phrase hundreds of times during my Dartmouth career.

I’ve grown to have at least a loose grasp of the phrase’s meaning over the past two years — to be facetimey generally means that you socialize in certain locations around campus where you are more visible to students walking by. A recent email from the college’s Center for Professional Development, however, caused me to question my comprehension — they asserted that being facetimey is a skill (But does their approval now mean that it is less cool to be facetimey?) that could even get you a job.

The CPD’s adoption of the term as their own, taking it out of its normal context of college slang and turning it into something more serious is definitely a testament to the term’s popularity around campus. How the word actually reached the CPD’s office is still a mystery to me. But I began to wonder: Do Dartmouth students actually value being facetimey? Does the phrase have any meaning beyond Hanover? Or has it become yet another word that enters into the circulation of campus lingo without being anything but a meaningless sound bite?

I interviewed four students to investigate how the campus perceives the concept of facetime and how important it is to students.

Julieta Feltrin ’17 remembers coming to Dartmouth and hearing the word “facetime” for the first time and thinking that the students were talking about the video chat application. Now that she understands its meaning, Feltrin said that she does not think that we have any more of a facetime culture at Dartmouth than some of the other Ivy League schools, such as Yale or Harvard. She said that at these other schools, people may be more motivated on building their careers through acquaintances rather than talking to people for the sake of true friendships.

In what could be seen as evidence of the idea that there are in fact facetimey locations on campus, I coincidentally ran into Megan Paul’17 and Alyssa Schmid ’17 10 minutes before our scheduled phone interview as they were coming out of King Arthur Flour (a hangout spot infamous for drawing masses of people who want to be seen).

As soon as we began our interview, a mention of the word “facetime” immediately provoked a quick game of word association. “[First Floor Berry],” Paul said.

“Bottom of the stairs at Novack. KAF. Sports teams at FoCo. Dark side — that’s old money,” Schmid said.

“What’s the light side, then?” Paul asked.

“That’s new money, because it’s more modern,” Schmid said.

Certainly, if you sit in these places, you’re bound to see more students — or get more facetime. But it’s unclear whether where you sit around campus dictates how people perceive you socially. Nor was anyone interviewed sure exactly how many people on campus actually fit into the label of ‘facetimey’ simply for the sake of ‘facetimey-ness.’

Paul and Schmid were only able to recall one mutual friend (who will remain unnamed) who they both considered to be notoriously facetimey.

Schmid said that she thought that he was a good example of someone being facetimey with pure intentions, while

Paul said that she thought that because he values being friends with everyone, people don’t see him as genuine. She added that it’s difficult for her to trust facetimey people because she feels as though they have ulterior motives.

Schmid said that although she wouldn’t characterize being facetimey as necessarily good or bad, she has experienced its benefits. She said, for example, that “it was nice that I randomly knew everyone at KAF just now.”

Despite her waving to another ’17 across the grass over during our interview (I was impressed by her social acumen), Schmid doesn’t consider herself to be Facetimey because she’s genuinely interested in people’s days and their lives.

“I actually wonder how many people are actually deliberately facetimey,” she said.

Paul, too, was reluctant to self-describe this way.

“I guess I’m a little bit facetimey. I like to feed off of other people’s energies. Everyone at Dartmouth is impressive; I want to know about their lives,” she said. “There are people here who won the world Frisbee championship, or have done other amazing things, and I wouldn’t know without talking to them.”

Paul noted that Dartmouth’s facetimey culture places certain expectations on students that have ultimately changed her social interactions outside of the college.

“At Dartmouth, we say hi to everyone we know because it would be rude not to. When I go home and go to the grocery store, I say hi to people from my high school that I wouldn’t have said hi to before college because I viewed them as the popular kids; there was a social hierarchy before. There were social boundaries at high school that don’t really exist at Dartmouth.”

Cassidy McDermott ‘17, who is from Seattle, Washington, said that she thinks that being facetimey is a concept only relevant at the College. She does not believe that it exists outside of Hanover’s small-town setting.

When I asked about whether she thought that the CPD was on to something with their emails inviting sophomores to events to teach them how to be facetimey with potential employers, she said, “Honestly, I delete the emails.”

Emily Neely ’17 thinks that “it’s a cute marketing tactic” to try to appeal to college students with that terminology. She noted, however, that she is sure that there are merits to being Facetimey during networking events. Schmid thinks that the way in which Dartmouth encourages students to make acquaintances has helped her with social interactions that could potentially lead to jobs.

“You always make small talk with people,” she said. “With recruiting, you’re using these little connections that you have to leverage yourself, especially with [former] Dartmouth students. It’s the same thing.”

Neely said that she doesn’t think that how Dartmouth values being facetimey plays any role in how she makes friends.

“You can have a lot of acquaintances, but that doesn’t say anything about the quality of your friendships,” she said.